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As the St. Louis startup community continues to grow, the voices and concerns of its founders, grass roots organizers and support organizations need to be heard, perhaps now more than ever. What does St. Louis need to do now to support its startups? Where is it succeeding? We gathered community members to talk to us about our region’s current challenges and possible solutions. Ben Burke is the director of entrepreneurship for Arch Grants. 

Ben Burke is the director of entrepreneurship for Arch Grants.
Ben Burke is the director of entrepreneurship for Arch Grants.

What are three issues, gaps or improvements that St. Louis’ startup ecosystem needs to address?

I believe the issue is scale. We need more of everything, including entrepreneurs, capital, tech talent, mentorship and local corporate buy-in.

Which one would you focus on first?

Attracting and retaining entrepreneurs who are building new products and services is the first and most important step in building the ecosystem.

What approach would you take to solving that?

A more people-centric approach to attraction and retention.

What is your hope for St. Louis’ startup future?

My hope is within the next five years we see a significant increase in the number of entrepreneurs who move to or stay within St. Louis.

What do you love about the current state of STL’s startup scene?

From my point of view, there is a strong culture of collaboration among organizations that support early-stage entrepreneurs.

This article was published in EQ print issue 1, Fall 2015.

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Kelly is Cofounder/Managing Partner of EQ and Cofounder of ALIVE Media Group. After earning an M.A. in literature at Washington University in St. Louis, Kelly cofounded ALIVE in 2002. He believes becoming an entrepreneur can change not only the life of that entrepreneur, but also his/her community and the world, and that being able to tell stories of transformation like that is the best job one could have.